Athens Digest 16.04.2019

• Tsipras says his government won’t meet tax pledge

• Yields drop to 2005 levels, Athens says it’s ready for early IMF loan repayment

Who Knew? Greek debt a source of investor optimism _ Bloomberg commentary

Mitsotakis: Markets have “priced in” the pro-business benefits of New Democracy election victory

# The prime minister last night vowed not to introduce 2020 tax hikes promised to bailout creditors, firing an early shot in the general election battle that he insisted would be settled in October. Speaking in a live TV interview, Tsipras said he would not reduce the tax threshold that would take effect on January 1, after the election. “Reducing the tax threshold is not under consideration,” Tsipras told Antenna television. “As long as Syriza is in government, the threshold will not be cut.”

# Yields on Greek government bonds fell to their lowest level since 2005, and the government insisted it was ready to start repaying IMF loans back early. “The (early) repayment of IMF loans is a very significant development, the most important since the exit from the programs in August 2018,” Prime Minister Tsipras said, adding that money saved for the loan repayment would be used to improve welfare programmes. “We are moving towards relief policies as long as the indicators for our economy continue to be positive.” Reuters meanwhile, citing Greek government officials, reported that Athens’ request to the ESM for early IMF loan repayment was likely to be submitted this week.

# As borrowing rates begin to return to normal, Greece can look to a growing list of positives, topped by decent growth by euro area standards and comfortably long debt maturities. Senior Bloomberg editor Matthew Winkler noted that since 2015, investors in Greek debt have gained an astonishing 231 percent return compared to the global debt market total of 9.6 percent. “Greek debt proved to be the signal of EU resilience in the noise of hopelessness amplified by the UK’s 2016 vote to leave,” Winkler wrote.

# In interviews with Bloomberg, opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis argued that markets had already “priced in” the pro-business benefits of a conservative election victory, while Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras said investors anticipated a sharp improvement in the non-performing loan environment as multiple efforts to tackle to problem take effect.

On our Radar: Giannis Deserves Double
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks blitzed past the Detroit Pistons 121-86 in the first game of the season’s NBA playoffs, with fans in Greece losing sleep to watch him tear through his opponents with a string of unstoppable dunks for 24 points in the game. Forbes magazine declared the 24-year-old Antetokounmpo the most underpaid player in the NBA, based on his earnings and performance. The Greek Freak will earn $24.2 million this season, according to the Sportrac, but should earn more than double that amount. Using a calculation method developed by American sports economist David Berri, Antetokounmpo should be making $53.7 million based on his winning performances and the total amount spent on the players in the U.S. league.